The ConnecteDNA project: donor conception, direct-to-consumer genetic testing, choices and the role of law

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentationResearch


In the 1980s, when fertility legislation was first discussed in the UK, anonymity was intended to protect gamete donors and recipient couples from emotional difficulties and legal complications. Elements of gamete donor anonymity (such as prohibiting access to information during childhood) remain a feature of the regulation of donor conception in the UK, despite significant cultural (and legal) change.

However, direct-to-consumer genetic testing (DTCGT) now offers donors and the donor-conceived community the means to circumvent legal frameworks guaranteeing anonymity. The ConnecteDNA project has examined the use of DTCGT by donor-conceived people (DCP), donors and parents of DCP. For some participants, DTCGT unexpectedly revealed that they were donor-conceived. For others, DTCGT has facilitated the search for, identification of, and sometimes contact with people connected to them by donor-conception. Such events can lead to positive emotional outcomes, but are often associated with psychological distress and disruption to family relationships.
As a result of DTCGT, many people affected by donor conception now find themselves with emotional and ethical conundrums about whether or, for parents of donor-conceived children, when to search for donor relatives. DTCGT providers offer scant information about the potential emotional consequences of such searches, and no access to counselling or psychological support. In this paper, using therapeutic jurisprudence as an analytic framework for our qualitative data, I ask how law reform in this area should be approached, and whether (and, if so, how) the promotion of positive therapeutic effects and ‘wellbeing’ should be a focus of the legal system.
Period27 Mar 2024
Event titleSocio-legal Studies Association annual conference 2024
Event typeConference
LocationPortsmouth, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • therapeutic jurisprudence